“So I am back in Pakistan. It feels so strange. It is as if the last 3 months in Britain were are dream…not my adventures in Asia! It is extraordinary the way I feel so comfortable here again.
Already I have come from Karachi to ‘Pindi and encountered, again, the kindness and generosity of the Pakistani muslim.
The long train journey dragged on, the scenery uninspiring. Flat and continuous. The only things of any real interest were the nomadic tent ‘towns’ and grazing goats and cattle.
Half way it began to rain (barish) and rain and rain. That familiar damp ache began to invade my body and I could feel my enthusiasm dying.
I was in a compartment with one elegant lady (Rawalpindi) and another lady with her daughter’s child (Peshawar). I had hoped to reach Peshawar, but the train began to run very late.
“The hotels will all be closed.” I said, genuinely worried.
The elegant lady suggested that I stop in ‘Pindi for the night, it was 9pm when we arrived and I decided this was the best plan. Together we left the darkened station (power cut) and then she invited me to stay!
Her name was Bibi. In the dark we walked to her open house. The rain poured in the central courtyard and their grandchildren played around me. They lived with their son and his wife and their 3 boys (10, 8 and 4) and their youngest daughter (17). They were all so typically kind.
I was left alone with her husband to discuss, in English, politics and the state of Pakistan, differences in culture etc. and in between I could laugh and play with the children and help in the kitchen.
The, to me, strange, Islamic attitude to women is one that constantly plagues me, but despite a few questions of physical freedom I find their lives very agreeable!
They are far stronger than their male counterparts. The men become like children in their seriousness, the women are more natural and realistic! Pakistan’s aim seems to be to perpetuate their religious state…without these women and their child bearing this would be impossible. I have found women, in the main, (contrary to Western propaganda) to command immense respect. As they are not allowed (and often do not want to!) go outside in the dirty, noisy, male dominated world of the bazaar, it is easy not to recognise this fact. Sometimes I feel the men are almost embarrassed by this obvious reality!
I left Bibi and her family this morning and with some chasing around found a reasonable hotel (80 rupees double – no single currently available?). The horns are hooting and the rain continues to pour down. Strange garments made from plastic bags jostle with the umbrellas of the ‘drowned rat’ people below.
I am drinking a cup of hot chai, happy to be dry.
Oo…they have a single room now…gotta go….”